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Layoffs loom at Hemlo mine complex

Subpar performance, transition from open pit to underground mining, means cuts coming at Barrick’s William Mine
Barrick Williams Mine 2
Barrick Gold's Williams Mine.

Layoffs are in the offing for Barrick Gold’s workforce in the Hemlo camp of northwestern Ontario.

In a news release, the north shore miner said operations are being “modernized and refocused” to ensure its viability and extend its mine life. The open pit operation is being phased out as operations move underground.

A Thunder Bay news report indicated as many as 80 workers could be impacted.

Barrick’s only Northern Ontario asset is the Williams Mine, an open pit and underground operation in the Hemlo complex.

Located on the north shore of Lake Superior, 350 kilometres east of Thunder Bay, Hemlo has produced more than 21 million ounces of gold over more than 30 years.

A statement from Barrick chief operating officer Catherine Raw said Hemlo has been a solid producer for 34 years, but the operation’s performance has been lagging.

“By repositioning Hemlo as a smaller but more profitable business, we are ensuring that it will continue to deliver value to its community, employees and other stakeholders for years to come. A longer sustainable mine life will create longer-term employment opportunities and longer-term benefit sharing with the local community and economy,” she said.

“Because of the move to contract mining and the introduction of new technology, we are inviting the majority of employees working underground to participate in a voluntary separation program. We have already met with these employees to inform them about the program and to assure them that they will be treated fairly and with respect for their service to the mine.”